I’d like to tell you about an early therapy experience that shaped my entire approach to individual therapy.
One of my earliest individual therapy clients was a distraught young woman who came into the Stress Management Clinic experiencing a very painful headache. She was a college senior, nearing the graduation mark, when just at the last few weeks of school, her headache appeared.
She had been an A-student all through school. But at the moment, she couldn’t study, couldn’t write her last papers, couldn’t prepare for final exams. The clock was ticking, and she was scared.
There always seems to be at least one person in our lives with whom we don’t feel we can share our true thoughts and feelings about. There can be several reasons for this. Maybe we want to be liked. Maybe we’re embarrassed, or we’re simply afraid of what might happen if we tell them. If you were to confront the person or people with whom you have an issue, just imagine how this would free up space in your brain to think about other things.
There are three ways in which people often communicate that are NOT effective. One is not saying anything and letting resentments build. This is called being passive. Another is aggressive communication. This might seem obvious, but aggression doesn’t really do anything for us either, except maybe land us in jail. Aggression can take the form of verbal or physical violence. Trying to control someone else is never the answer, nor should this be an option.
You may have heard the word, “Codependent,” but do you really know what it means? Definitions and descriptions of a codependent person can be expansive. Occasionally, I hear people mistakingly believe this term applies to only those who are within some type of addicted or chemically dependent relationship. They aren’t completely wrong. In fact, the original term for this concept was “co-alcoholic,” as researchers initially examined settings where addiction was present and they found a variety of behavior patterns in the family members of these chemically dependent people. In looking closer, they noticed a range of emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual issues in these family members and loved ones. As the concept continued to expand, it was not long before we realized that these patterns continued even after a relationship with an addicted person ended. What’s more, these things were also being exhibited in non-addicted relationships and families.
Mindfulness is one of the four core skills introduced in a highly effective type of therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT incorporates the Eastern practice of mindful meditation into talk therapy. The combination of practicing mindful meditation and evaluating negative thought patterns can significantly increase relaxation and help one cope with strong emotions.
So what exactly is mindfulness and how do we become more mindful? Being mindful is a state of mind that can be achieved with regular practice. Mindfulness is the act of simply observing our thoughts and feelings without imposing judgement on those thoughts or feelings such that they are “good” or “bad”. Let’s be honest, to refrain from judging and criticizing our own thoughts and feelings is a hard feat to conquer. We judge ourselves constantly throughout the day; therefore, it will understandably take a fair amount of practice and time to eventually master this art.
Like most adults participating in any sort of small talk with someone you’ve just met, I often am asked what I do for a living. It’s curious to me that some individuals seem to struggle with my answer. I say “I am a therapist” and they say “oh yeah?, like physical therapist?” or “cool, my sister is a massage therapist” or “I thought about going in to speech therapy too”. Then I usually say something like “no, no, I am a psychotherapist”. “Oh, okay”, they reply. And, then, this is usually the end of the conversation. So this leaves me wondering – are we still not comfortable, even in 2016, with the idea of tending to our mental health? Is there still such a strong stigma attached to mental illness or even just emotional struggle that it’s a conversation ender or a small-talk buzz kill? Unfortunately, it seems like the answer is still yes.
There are many growing pains in those weeks, months and years after a divorce occurs. Ex-spouses adjust to their new normal and often experience feelings of fear, sadness, relief, joy and confusion as they try to rebuild their lives. During this time, they may also find themselves in situations where they are still communicating to each other in ways that contributed to the divorce. These interactions are often combative, malicious and hurtful. Unfortunately, many of the negative characteristics that were present in the failed marriage will often transfer over to the post-divorce relationship, which, in turn, continue to affect the children.
My name is Lauren Collins. I am an outpatient, registered dietitian, specializing in disordered eating; this includes binge eating disorder, anorexia, bulimia, and/or general disordered eating. I am extremely passionate about helping others repair and improve their relationship with food while simultaneously learning to love themselves. Although, it is considered “best practice” to address disordered eating within the context of a treatment team, some individuals suffering from an eating disorder may be reluctant to see a dietitian. You may ask, “I am seeing a therapist, why do I need both?” I am here to tell you the 5 Reasons Why Seeing A Dietitian is Essential to your Eating Disorder Recovery.
Everyone has experienced occasional stress or anxiety. A busy day at work, overwhelming schedule, or unexpected flat tire can throw anyone for a loop. However, for those with chronic stress, anxiety takes on a whole new meaning. The feeling of panic, fear, or foreboding seems to never go away, and can actually grow over time.
There are many ways to treat both short-term and chronic anxiety, including therapy and medication. These approaches can help a person build coping skills to deal with anxiety as well as providing some relief from obsessive thinking and worry. Therapy and medication in combination can be a particularly powerful approach to address the mental and emotional symptoms of anxiety.
Often times in my practice I am asked for my advice to parents raising kids. Number one, it’s the hardest job in the world, and here is what I think…
BE the kind of person you want your children to be.